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WikiLeaks: 2006-12-15: 06ANKARA6665: Turkey's Kurds' Expectations Sinking as Election Season Starts

by WikiLeaks. 06ANKARA6665: December 15, 2006.

Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 07:19 PM UT


Viewing cable 06ANKARA6665, TURKEY,S KURDS' EXPECTATIONS SINKING AS ELECTION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06ANKARA6665 2006-12-15 13:21 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
VZCZCXRO6372
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHFL RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV
RUEHSR
DE RUEHAK #6665/01 3491321
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 151321Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0304
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKDAI/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5// PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU//TCH// PRIORITY
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU PRIORITY
RUEHAK/TSR ANKARA TU PRIORITY
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 006665 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/13/2021 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY,S KURDS' EXPECTATIONS SINKING AS ELECTION 
SEASON STARTS 
 
REF: A. ANKARA 6567 
     B. ANKARA 6589 
 
Classified By: Adana Principal Officer Eric Green, reasons 1.4 (b) and 
(d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  Kurdish leaders in Turkey's southeast have 
concluded that serious discussion of the Kurdish issue will 
be trumped by nationalistic posturing until after next year's 
elections.  Continuation of the PKK ceasefire, which is 
universally welcomed in the region, is threatened by ongoing 
violence which most believe is initiated by the security 
forces.  Residents returning to their villages after being 
evacuated in anti-PKK fighting in the 1980's and 90's are 
finally receiving some compensation from the government but 
this chance for the government to win some trust is being 
undercut by allegations of corruption and, in the case of 
Syriac Christians, paranoid harassment by local officials. 
With the up-tick in violence, human rights groups accuse 
government forces of serious police abuse of Kurdish 
activists and PKK fighters.  There is widespread 
suspicion/paranoia - unsubstantiated - that GOT forces used 
chemical weapons against the PKK.  Flood victims in Batman, 
the city hit hardest by recent heavy flooding in the 
southeast, may be further victimized as they find themselves 
in the midst of squabbling between the national government, 
the local Democratic Society Party (DTP) municipal 
administration and the local Justice and Development Party 
(AKP) over which can be seen to be doing the most to bring 
relief to the victims.  End summary. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
As Nationalist Rhetoric Escalates, Kurdish 
Politicians Take Cover 
------------------------------------------ 
 
2. (U) In recent travel, Adana officers visited Van, 
Diyarbakir, Tunceli, Elazig, Mardin, Cizre and Batman in 
southeastern Turkey to meet with local officials and NGO 
representatives and assess the status of the PKK's October 1 
cease-fire declaration. 
 
3. (C)  Diyarbakir mayor Osman Baydemir (DTP) said that as 
national elections loom next year, he believes the Kurdish 
issue will be used by various groups to burnish their 
nationalist credentials with no regard for seeking a 
solution.  As an example, he believes the current military 
operations against the PKK are motivated by the Turkish 
military's desire to keep PM Erdogan on the defensive (and 
away from the presidency) by showing the public that the PM 
can't keep the country at peace.  Baydemir added that the 
operations keep all interested parties on notice that a 
possible large-scale operation into Northern Iraq is still on 
the table.  He also criticized the GOT for failing to lower 
the election threshold to allow the main Kurdish party, the 
DTP, to ave a chance of entering the parliament. 
 
4. C)  In this context, Baydemir was resigned to seeing no 
progress - but also not too much regression - in the process 
of liberalizing Turkey's political system to accommodate 
Kurdish aspirations.  Baydemir praised True Path Party (DYP) 
Chairman Mehmet Agar's recent comments recommending the GOT 
consider an amnesty for PKK fighters to help resolve the 
Kurdish issue.  In addition to introducing a taboo topic into 
the national discourse, Baydemir said he was gratified that, 
when the military criticized the statement, Agar held his 
ground and even pushed back.  By contrast, Erdogan gave in to 
military pressure and retreated from his August 2005 pledge 
to take on the Kurdish issue, according to Baydemir. 
 
---------------------- 
PKK Ceasefire in Doubt 
---------------------- 
 
5. (C)  The PKK ceasefire that went into effect on October 1 
is widely supported throughout the southeast, but continued 
violence, which locals attribute to the GOT's rejection of 
the ceasefire, has led the PKK to publicly threaten to resume 
combat.  Mayor Baydemir told us he has grown progressively 
 
ANKARA 00006665  002 OF 003 
 
 
less optimistic in recent months because of the GOT's 
aggressive response to the PKK's cease-fire declaration.  The 
Human Rights Association in Siirt as well as Sirnak (DTP) 
Mayor Mehmet Ertak told us that anti-PKK operations 
throughout the southeast have increased since the declaration 
of the ceasefire, and threaten to upset the fragile peace 
that the ceasefire was meant to create.  Ertak said that 
foreign governments, like the USG, should work harder to 
perpetuate the ceasefire.  According to one journalist, as 
PKK units retreat to inaccessible terrain or across 
international borders, GOT forces may find it relatively easy 
to attack them.  Though the PKK claims its own operations are 
now limited to "self-defense", it has initiated offensive 
actions in recent weeks including a fatal attack on a 
military helicopter using an IED. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
Some Compensation - Finally - for Displaced Villagers 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
6. (C) After years of delays, the GOT is now providing 
compensation to thousands of villagers who were forced to 
leave their homes in the 1990s as part of the conflict with 
the PKK.  Diyarbakir's deputy governor, Erol Ozer, stated 
that throughout the province about 42,000 applications for 
compensation were received and of those, 9,000 have now been 
adjudicated with 7,900 accepted.  The average award is 
between 20,000 and 30,000 YTL (about $14,000 to $21,000), 
though some are as high as 100,000 (about $71,000) depending 
on the family's house and the value of crops and livestock 
lost due to the forced departures.  According to a trusted 
NGO consulate contact, the compensation program in Diyarbakir 
has been compromised because the governor's office has 
coerced many of those receiving compensation to "donate" some 
of their money to the local soccer team, whose owner was 
recently appointed to the governor's staff. 
 
7. (C)  Similarly, the return of a modest number of Syriac 
Christian villagers from Europe and western Turkey to the 
Midyat region has prompted paranoid reactions among local 
officials.  Bishop Aktas of the Mor Gabriel Monastery told us 
that some local government officials were nervous that 
well-off Syriac returnees, whom they accuse of building "New 
York Villas" in their villages, were attempting to 
re-establish a Syriac Christian presence in a region that 
had, in the decade since the evacuation of those villages, 
been partially re-populated with mostly Muslim residents. 
Aktas told us that the local Sub-Governor, accompanied by two 
other unidentified officials, recently visited him and asked 
him what part he played regarding renewed talk in the media 
about an historical "Syriac genocide."  Aktas denied any 
involvement, and suggested that the officials check with the 
media outlets involved.  The officials also warned Aktas that 
the monastery should cease teaching the Aramaic language to 
the few dozen Syriac children who board at the monastery and 
attend local Turkish schools. 
 
-------------------------------- 
Maltreatment by Police Continues 
-------------------------------- 
 
8. (C)  Human Rights Association (HRA) offices in the 
southeast continue to report abuses by the police and 
military against captured PKK fighters and the mutilation of 
corpses of insurgents killed in clashes.  Malatya HRA told us 
that PKK insurgents incarcerated in the local prison were 
often kept in isolation, denied access to family or to any 
kind of Kurdish language literature or broadcasts, and were 
sometimes exposed to harsh temperatures without proper 
clothing.  Both HRA offices further reported that the local 
police have undertaken a new tactic of encouraging lynchings 
by agitated crowds against troublemakers as a sort of 
replacement for post-arrest torture by police. 
 
9. (C) Human rights activists in Siirt and Diyarbakir stated 
that eyewitnesses in the Bingol-Mus region, where anti-PKK 
operations are the most intense, recently reported seeing 
burned and mutilated corpses of militants killed in clashes, 
with fingers, hands, noses, ears or other body parts cut off. 
 
ANKARA 00006665  003 OF 003 
 
 
 They also claimed that the reports of burns on the corpses 
might indicate the use of chemical weapons by security 
forces.  We have seen no medical or other expert confirmation 
of these claims, which are most likely baseless. 
Nonetheless, local suspicion of the security forces is now 
such that such accusations are gaining traction in this 
region, a commentary on the continued deterioration of trust. 
 
----------------------------- 
Post-flood Politics in Batman 
----------------------------- 
 
10. (SBU)  Batman was one of the hardest-hit cities in the 
southeast by the early-October heavy floods that devastated 
villages and infrastructure throughout the region.  Nearly 
800 homes, mostly "gecekondu" squatter structures built in a 
dry riverbed area south of the city, and nearly 3000 
residents were directly affected by the flooding in Batman. 
The Turkish Red Crescent, with the help of Batman 
municipality and some NGOs, has set up tent and container 
cities, and provides three meals per day for over 2600 flood 
victims.  The GOT mass housing authority (TOKI) has begun 
preparations for building the first 1200 new homes for the 
flood victims.  The Batman Bar Association told us that their 
best estimate shows that the victims will have to spend a 
minimum of two winters in their current, substandard living 
conditions before they might be able to purchase (with 
long-term, low-interest government loans) new homes. 
 
11. (C)  Meanwhile, the Governor's office has rejected the 
City Council's request to place heavy machinery at the 
disposal of the DTP-run municipality for post-flood clean-up 
and infrastructure repair.  The Governor's office argued that 
the machinery belongs to the central government, but the Bar 
Association told us that the government wants to avoid 
letting the DTP get too much credit for the clean-up.  Our 
discussions with the Bar Association and the Batman 
Provincial AK Party confirmed that the AKP, too, wants to be 
seen as playing a high-profile role in post-flood relief 
efforts, using their Ankara connections to outflank Batman's 
(pro-PKK extremist) DTP Mayor's office in the competition for 
votes in next year's general elections. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
12. (C) As with other urgent priorities on Turkey's agenda 
such as the need for progress on its EU bid, pre-election 
paralysis and pandering will likely preclude any serious 
discussion - let alone progress - on the Kurdish issue.  But 
neglecting Turkey's Kurdish region carries higher costs now 
as events move forward in neighboring Iraq.  While the level 
of violence and fear is significantly lower than a decade 
ago, impatience with the GOT's lack of attention is growing, 
together with a willingness - present at the height of the 
conflict in the 1990's - to attribute the worst to Turkish 
security forces.  Van's politically moderate Chamber of 
Commerce President, Zahir Kandasoglu, summarized the 
situation simply: "If the government doesn't do something 
about southeast Turkey, it will fall apart just like Iraq. 
We need investment and the freedom to use our language and 
culture." 
 
 
Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/ 
 
WILSON

 



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